Wednesday, November 30, 2011

BMW in TMS 2011.

BMW BMW BMW.  I enjoyed the presentation a 100%.  No show and dance, no presenter or performer, just pure solid information on the ultimate driving machines and their destination.  What I like is how they communicate their positioning is via solid facts.  Numerical data that they are so confident in (almost cocky) because they are unprecedented and unchallenged - the most sustainable automotive brand for 7 years in a row, the ActiveHybrid 5 Sedan that's most powerful and efficient in its class, the figures which show that BMW is the number premium brand in Japan.  No... football gimmick, only true vorsprung durch technik ;) Sorry I take that back.  That was below the belt.

BMW talked about two important aspects of where they are likely to take the brand to.  Evolution - optimising combustion engine and Revolution - pursuing sustainable technologies today.  Hence, the world premier of the ActiveHybrid 5 Sedan - a full-hybrid sedan that brings together a six-cylinder in-line petrol engine, an electric drive system, an eight-speed automatic gearbox and a high-performance lithium-ion battery. As well as the BMW i concept - i3 and i8 sports - both set to be the world's first premium electric vehicles.

And I was looking all over... and there you are :)

Yeah.  Keep it simple.  The way a car should be.

Hello big brother :) Just something to note, the premium cars showcased in TMS this year, all sport a matte pearl finish.  Trend to come?

And of course, the 120 Sport (non-M).

Audi at TMS 2011.

As always, Audi's booth is the unmistakable gigantic white arch with its 4 silver circles in line.  I was excited to see Audi's line up because I remember back in 2007, during my first trip to the Tokyo Motorshow, they unveiled the 'Metropolitan Project' concept car which is known as the A1 today.  And I remembered the video they showed introducing it - it was pretty impressive and got stuck to me since.  So you have to understand I've got high expectations this time round as well.

In terms of the overall presentation, I thought it was a let down.  They had some really good dancing female footballers all right (yup, who could do tricks I know many guys can't), but... in an autoshow?  C'mon...  Also, they unveiled the 'Samurai Blue' which is basically a car for the Japanese football team (with two Japanese world champion female footballers who did the unveiling).  Do you get me now?  Like seriously?  -_-"  And then they unveiled the A1 1.4 TSI sportback which to me... was a let down.  I mean it's Audi.  While the world splits to go high on electricity or high performance on both fun driving and environment, Audi presented an... A1 Sportback.  Hmmm...

But the saving grace is the line-up of its famed S series.  Their equivalent luxury performance range which was sexy and sweet and all things nice :)~  Pictures below.

First up the S5.

And then the S7.

And then the A1.

Look ma!  No legs!

And the premier of the A1 sportback in... yellow bronze?  With the Samurai Blue behind (which I didn't bother).

And of course, the R8 GT behind the S5.

Tokyo Motorshow 2011 - Honda Press Launch.

I must have been mistakenly born as a girl.  The minute I set foot into the hall, seriously seriously seriously, I forget what bugs me.  I forget everything that bugs me.  Heck, I forget everything!  So I'm gonna take some time to post up the goodies and the sexies from TMS 2011, please bear with me for all-car talk for the next few days.

First up.  Honda (of course, where else would I be first right?).

This year, you can tell Honda is coming back albeit a tough year it has gone through with Japan's earthquake and the Thai flood.  Although its corporate direction maintains towards eco technology (hybrid, fuel cell, EV) but it has not forgotten its 'challenging spirit' roots.  And you can tell from its concept showcase today including the world premier of the EV open-top small sports, the EV-STER, that Honda had maintain its sports DNA albeit recognising the need to change how we manufacture and use mobility products for both the environment and future sake.  Today, Honda showcased 7 next generation Electromotive concept models.

This is the AC-X, a next-generation plug-in hybrid vehicle which offers a more comfortable and enjoyable time in the vehicle during all driving situations, from urban to long-distance driving. With the choices of an "engine drive mode" for more aggressive driving or an "automatic drive mode" for more relaxed driving, the vehicle broadens the joy of mobility.

And of course the much anticipated small sports EV-STER - an all-rounder performer in an exhilarating drive and environmental performance that literally takes your breath away (if you thought the CR-Z was cool enough...).

And then the world premier of N-concepts which N stands for New Next Nippon Norimono (the new next-generation of Japanese mobility).  They may look weird and boxy to you but they're hell popular in Japan's Kei car market.  Considering Japan's socio-economics, population trend and the fact that Japanese (after what they have gone through) are a hell lot more conscious about ecology, a lot of automotive manufacturers have to ensure they continuously produce products that can stay relevant with the needs of the time.  So it isn't just Honda that will be driving this change.  We see other Japanese makes ensuring their products are energy-efficient, possible zero-emission and compact in size.

There's also the Fit EV which will be on sale next year.  It has two plug-ins on both frontal side of the car.  Exterior wise, looks like good old familiar Jazz, now with a striking blue colour.

Interior sports a premium-feel sort of light grey fabric and finishing.  The information display wasn't lit up, so I couldn't tell how cool the meters are.  But you can see from here, it's simple and straightforward.

This is definitely interesting for me because under the hood, there isn't an i-VTEC engine.  Instead, it has a 92-kWh electric motor built-in with a lithium-ion battery pack that can take you up to 198km per charge of 240V outlet for about 3 hours.

And of course, completing the hybrid family, how can we not have Freed.  Design is similar with a bit of exterior modification.  But true to its hybrid DNA, it has a different multi-information display compared to the current Freed we have.


Last but not least, how can ASIMO not appear at Honda's booth in Tokyo Motorshow 2011.  As usual, he's an endearment to all :) He is now more dexterous and can utilize his fingers to open bottle caps to pour a drink.  This is a notable improved precision in Honda robotic technology.  Anyway, cute as ever :)

Will be spending some more time in Tokyo this week, so more information to come ;) 

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Good Samaritan Shop.: New stuff in the shop! :D

The Good Samaritan Shop.: New stuff in the shop! :D: Check out these new stuff soon! Gonna post them separately once I get back from Tokyo. Yes yes I see that excitement in your eyes cause w...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Good Samaritan Shop.: Make decorative functional.

The Good Samaritan Shop.: Make decorative functional.: I've been staring at this bottle of 2004 Evian for the longest time. It came with a blue plastic cap and should look like a drop of water....

Friday, November 25, 2011

We won a pitch.

We were recently invited to... defend one of our sub-accounts (I suppose it's strange to call it a pitch because then it would sound like it wasn't rightfully ours in the first place), nevertheless we've got official news today that we've won and will be working with our clients for the next coming year.  Nice one team!

+ Jacq, Cindy, Raof, Hide-san, Motoki-san, KW, Yap, Charel, Franz

p/s: Hope I didn't miss anyone else.  But if I did, my sincere apologies and I allow you one punch.  My happiness will absorb all pain ;)

What can I say, but thank you to The Power of Dreams.

About this project:
Dentsu Utama is in charge of overall brand strategy, content planning and producing for Honda's owner magazine since 2006.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Malaysia's got talent.

Shoot.  I teared.

I'm such a baby.  But how can you not feel something when you know this is not fiction?  It's happening everywhere around us if we pay attention?


BMW Shorties 2011 Top 10 Finalist.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I wish I was brave too.

Really I do.

The 4 major groups in any business organisation.

An interesting observation: There are 4 general groups of people in any business organization. On one end, you have a number of high flyers who are highly focused and dedicated to challenge every layer, break through every wall to realize their full potential, determined to take flight no matter what it takes. Even if that means 'to hell with ya' - highly volatile and difficult to control but probably the highest return on investment the company can make. They keep management on their toes and it's really a love-hate relationship.

 And then you have on the other extreme end, a bunch of 'orthodox' workers who are extremely routine, walk in a line and tend to shy away from change. They are generally contented with where they are, what they have and their slow progress. (Progress is change remember? And they don't like that so they are happiest in status quo). Not very high investment but return is low risk and well... generally return is low. But they are stable and they make management happy because they wouldn't even bother ruffling a hair, let alone setting up a union. They don't like change, remember?

In the middle comes the meat. Two parts and split in equal population size, you find a group who are called 'active competitors', not necessarily consistent deliverers of results but are highly motivated to compete and are hungry to be ahead of their peers. Method of game is style. It's not that they don't deliver, but because they have a tendency to always show that they are in the know, they get into gab trouble when they are not in the know. Sharp shooters will slice them apart but less critical audience may find them entertaining. Luck shines on them because they are creative go-getters.

And then there's the last group known as the 'shy doers' who are excellent deliverers but lack the showman finesse that would otherwise clearly position them as key drivers in the team. Their contribution is crucial yet they are always withdrawn to adhering norms within their social circles. Ridiculous as it sounds, rejecting or delaying compliments and promotions seem more like 'the right thing to do' than accepting it with grace for fear of being ejected into space alone. They are highly appreciated because of the substance they provide but also easily missed by management.

 Which one are you? Are there more groups than what I've observed? Do share.

Monday, November 21, 2011

One milestone; I am most most most thankful.

Today brought great news.  Life (work) really teaches me that in order to achieve goals, you not only need patience, you need resilience.  Patience I suppose is more passive sort of waiting.  It's almost like sitting on a chair, not eating, not drinking, not moving till you outlast your competition to be the last one standing.  Resilience on the other hand is about being proactive while waiting.  Of course, not everything goes as plan.  Sometimes being proactive gets you backfired as well.  Sometimes, shit happens, nasty things happens, plans go haywire and you tell yourself you've got to. suck. it. all. in.  And still come back with a smile with all your demons sorted out within you.  Life doesn't get easy, work doesn't get easy - I remember there are so many times when I didn't get what I want, not only that, I seemed to have failed horribly.  I wanted to throw in the gauntlet and say 'forget it, this isn't worth it'.  But somehow, with the spirit, support and hope from others, this invisible energy just pushes me to bite the bullet and trudge on.

I hardly post anything about the course of work in Dentsu U and our relationship with clients.  Cause I don't kiss and tell :) But I do remember posting something similar many months back when for the first time, we've been awarded an account without having to go for a pitch.  The word 'pitch' is both ugly and alluring to me.  Ugly because you might just lose what belongs to you (unless of course, it's someone else's pie you're going after) and alluring because that's when you're psyched up to go all out on every front to flex your strategic and creative muscles.  So for the first time, when we were awarded an account without a pitch, we decided to still go all out as a commitment to our client that regardless of our situation - our commitment is our commitment.

We provided 'pitch' quality material and I cannot thank the people in the team enough - Malaysia, Japan, Asia - for the coolest work we're producing right now (it may not be to you, but it is to me - just like how we always think our kid is better than all of the other kids right?  Sorry about that).  And for 4 years.  Four. freaking. long. years.  I've been like a child hoping to complete my collection of toys and whenever I couldn't seem to get my hands on the missing ones, I threw a lot of tantrum, ruffled a lot of feathers, stepped on a lot of toes because I believe that we have a team that is ready to manage our client's total business.  But why aren't they seeing it!?

But that wishful day finally came.  Today we were awarded the final project which completes our account.  Wow.  Four. freaking. long. years.  Today, I'm like that child once again, putting each car model in the glass case like they are the most precious things I've ever had.  This time I couldn't stop smiling not because of the implication of this project on our total business billing.  But more because I'm able to look back and really see how much we have changed, grown, stretched and pursued to be where we are today, accountable and trustworthy enough for our client to have make that decision.  It's an amazing feeling to complete a milestone!  Did you know that?  This elation is indeed indescribable!  A sense of secret accomplishment that you thought only people in the 50s will savour.  But I'm telling you, it's not.  You can taste it too if you would be more aware of your goal and make proactive steps to reach it and above all, you need both patience and resilience to stick to what you believe in.  Your brand, your account, your agency.

Someone told me today that our industry will cave inward and collapse within 3 to 5 years if we don't get enough talents in to sustain it.  But they need to understand that the agency's high turnover rate is also one of the micro-factors that are spurring this downward spiral aside from the brain drain situation our nation is facing.  So... if you're really serious about your job.  Really, stop focusing just on the money.  Focus on your goal and money will come look for you.  Stop this 2-year migration just because another agency is willing to pay you higher.  Recognise the change you want to make, and make it where you are now.  Not tomorrow, not in another agency, not in another time.  To be honest, I sometimes surprise myself.  4 years in DU is about the longest time I've ever spent in one agency (guilty as charged!).  Somehow, some people I spoke to feel that if you stick around too long in one agency, you become wallpaper - old and needs to be stripped!  Haha, funny as it sounds but seriously, I've seen so many wonderful people making change in their place but didn't stick around long enough to reap the fruits from the seeds they have sown.  That's a pity, no?  Sticking around doesn't mean stagnating.  It's about growing where you are planted and inspire the rest to do the same.

Just so you know, I'm not a workaholic.  Haha, yea, I'm really not.  No seriously.  But I do put a lot in for work because I think life is about creating something good.  If I'm gonna be in this job, then it's my job to create something good for the stakeholders - my team, my client, my agency, their business, the consumer, the society, the nation, the world.  Otherwise, what is the purpose?  Otherwise, it's probably really easier for me to quit my job and work somewhere that I don't have to fight for anything and just be happy with my paycheck every month $.$ oh hell yeah.  But it's only when you know you've put blood, sweat and tears into something, you'd truly appreciate it no?

Now I know, sometimes you need to walk to the end of the road and then look back and evaluate the journey to learn the lesson.  Today my job taught me something really really really precious about life.  Don't give up.  Whatever it is, don't give up.  The journey may be hazy at times, but listen to your heart and tell yourself, you can make that happen.  Whatever it is that you want to make happen.  Good luck ;)

p/s: Advertising is half sprint, half marathon.  Never all of one.  Cause you'll either burn out or you'll be left behind.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What a 6th grader can teach us?

Thomas Suarez is a 6th grader in Los Angeles who got fascinated by computers and programming on his own, searched for his inspirations and allowed them to spur him into building apps, attracting more support that he could ever imagine.  Just because he had a passion and it didn't matter whether other kids his age might not think it's cool.

You know, I watched the video and can't help but notice how nervous he was half way through his presentation.  He speaks so well, yet you could tell that he's trying really hard to remain cool before calling it a day.  What he taught me wasn't some ground breaking technology that an adult genius somewhere have not invented.  What he taught me is the simple innocence of having a simple idea and just in his all bewildering moment of discovery, drives him to pursue and shares his interest to hopefully, other kids who might not have the same fortunate avenues that are supporting him right now.  Yes, it's that simple.

And we talked about simplicity in life.  Why do we always have to discover the next big thing?  Why are we always hot in pursuit of life-changing innovations that are sometimes positioned so high up, that just the thought of suffering from a muscle pull from over-stretching, puts us off the idea.  Before we even attempt.  Whatever happened to start small?  Start with an interest?  And just work on the logical steps that fuel us towards discovery of the unknown.  The unknown not by NASA's definition, but by our own definition.  Whatever happened to that little curiosity in us that we're so eager to pursue something just because we want to know why when we were young?  When we were a 6th grader?

So to all of you who have little dreams.  Nevermind they're not the scale of Facebook, Google or Apple.  It doesn't matter you see because it is your dream.  Do it the way you want it.  Do it at your timing.  It doesn't matter if you're 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80.  It doesn't matter.  Get it?  It doesn't.

That's what this 6th grader, Thomas has taught me :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

S60 - naughty or nice? Neither.

Finally I had a chance to test drive the Volvo S60 - the latest line-up (still latest?) to the V family.  When I was growing up, my dad used to drive one of those tanker Volvos which I thought was indestructible.  Later as I mature into an income-earning consumer of my own right, I learned that Volvo is no doubt the safest car ever manufactured.  Only when I started on marketing, I realized I was fooled.  It wasn't Volvo, it's Mercedes Benz that's the world's safest car according to global safety ratings.  Volvo didn't invent the 3-point safety belt in automotive, the Americans did.  But they were the first to modernize it as standard equipment in 1959.  They weren't the ones who implemented the airbag system neither, again it was the Americans - Ford followed by GM.  And then Honda perfected it to a safety rating of 99.9999%.  So, pray tell me... where on earth did the idea of safety come about?  Probably, some brilliant marketer who figured an empty spot in the positioning map.  But anyway... back to the S60.

In terms of first look, it's definitely a lot more youthful compared to the older line-up although you wouldn't miss the resemblance in the siblings.  Nevertheless, it's still conservative to me but the curves are a lot more refine and contemporary, taking cues from what Mercedes did with their latest C youth-rangers.  In terms of interior work, if you can count on the Swedish for Ikea then you can definitely count on them for good ergonomic and functional interior design.  The cabin is well-designed for both looks and functionality and that would mean safety comes first.  The seats are not just elegant plushies but engineered to reduce whiplash to the minimum in the event of a collision.

The really neat part about the S60 is its upgraded system that's able to control the vehicle in relation to the one in front without you stepping on the accelerator or brake.  Stuff you watch on YouTube and thought it was urban legend in Malaysia.  From options like 'City Safety', 'Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Queue Assist and Distance Alert', 'Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection', and a whole load of other AI-type programmes which should help you to avoid/minimize dreadful accidents.  Although drivers should know that, these are assist programmes and not meant to be relied on, overriding the driver's intelligence.  For example, you could tell the size of the object or in which way, it will move in reaction to you but AI can't.  (Remember we talked about this, you can pre-programme a robot to respond in a certain situation but if the variables change, it will not react to the new situation).  Nevertheless, all these smart functions kinda add on to the 250k dough you'll be putting out for the assembled-in-Shah Alam CKD S60.

Now come to my favourite part of any test drives!  The drivability.  The S60 comes in 4 variants - two CKDs; T4 (1.6 turbo), T5 (2.0 turbo) and two CBUs; T5 (2.0 turbo - basically the same spec except larger navi screen) and the T6 (3.0 turbo).  I can only imagine my happy face behind the wheels of a T6 :D  Anyway, I took the T5 CBU with a 6 speed Powershift with Geartronic (which the SA conveniently calls it a DSG gearbox, haha!) for a ride and wow, was I pleasantly surprised.  It looks like a tough cookie on the outside but when she goes, she's nimble - every corner tucks neatly as she runs on straight and curves around corners - beautifully behaved.  She's also easy to manoeuvre albeit a whopping 240 horses under the hood with a generous 320Nm of torque.  So fun, but at the same time so poised.  Throttling is exceptionally smooth, going from 0-100 in 7.5s - the long stretch of road in front of me felt just like metres.  The S60 takes on about 12km for every litre which isn't exactly the most fuel-economy sedan compared to the Japanese. But hey, if you like it posh, why not.

While there's everything to like about the S60, for me, there's still something amiss.  It's definitely the most defiant one out of Volvo's current stable but it still isn't half as naughty as the Beemer's 3s or as sexy as the Merc C Avantgarde.  But it is definitely a very calm and collected addition to the family.

Who buys the S60?  30-35 years old, those who are climbing the ladder (or who have husbands climbing the ladder) in more traditional fields like professional services.  Getting married soon, just got married, married with a new kid.  Upcoming but still very traditional to family values - especially what dad thinks :) And dad thinks, "We may be successful but there's no need to shout about in the neighbourhood".  Yup, an S60 it is.